The Ledes

Sunday, November 23, 2014.

Washington Post: "Marion Barry Jr., the Mississippi sharecropper’s son and civil rights activist who served three terms as mayor of the District of Columbia, survived a drug arrest and jail sentence, and then came back to win a fourth term as the city’s chief executive, died early on Nov. 23 at United Medical Center in Washington. He was 78." Barry's New York Times: obituary is here.

Washington Post: "Negotiators working to slow Iran’s nuclear program and ease sanctions pressed forward with talks Saturday amid indications that they are at an impasse with two days left before a deadline for an accord." ...

... Reuters: "Iran says it will not be possible by a 24 November deadline to reach a comprehensive deal with world powers aimed at resolving the standoff over Tehran’s nuclear ambitions, the Iranian Students News Agency ISNA reported on Sunday." ...

     ... New York Times UPDATE: "With a deadline for an agreement to curb Iran’s nuclear program just a day away, American officials finally acknowledged Sunday that the two sides would not reach a deal by Monday’s deadline but would probably extend the talks a second time to explore a series of possible solutions."

Guardian: "The Obama administration announced the release of another Guantánamo Bay detainee on Saturday, rebuking recent calls from congressional Republicans to stop the transfers entirely. A Saudi man who has spent 12 years at the wartime detention facility, Muhammed Murdi Issa al-Zahrani, will return to Saudi Arabia and enter the kingdom’s rehabilitation program. The transfer brings the detainee population of a prison Barack Obama has vowed for six years to close down to 142 men, 72 of whom the Pentagon considers pose little enough threat as to be eligible for transfer."

The Wires

CW: Looks as if the Google News & stock market widgets are kaput & the Reuters widget is intermittent. We'll see what happens over the next few days with these.

Weekly Address

The President's Weekly Address

White House: "In this week’s address, the President laid out the steps he took this past week to fix our broken immigration system. Enacted within his legal authority, the President’s plan focuses on cracking down on illegal immigration at the border; deporting felons, not families; and accountability through criminal background checks and taxes":

Public Service Announcement

Washington Post, November 21: Learn how to use your thermostat & save $$$.

New York Times, November 17: "For the first time since statins have been regularly used, a large study has found that another type of cholesterol-lowering drug can protect people from heart attacks and strokes."

White House Live Video
November 21

7:30 am ET: Vice President Biden and President Poroshenko of Ukraine deliver joint statements in Kyiv, Ukraine (audio only)

8:30 am ET: Vice President Biden attends a roundtable discussion on anti-corruption & reform efforts in Kyiv (audio only)
3:55 pm ET:President Obama speaks at Del Sol High School in Las Vegas, Nevada

If you don't see the livefeed here, go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

***********************************************

Elaine Maine at the AFI Awards honoring Mike Nichols' lifetime achievements:

Frank Rich remembers Mike Nichols.

Erik Wemple: Bill Clinton discusses why his mother-in-law Dorothy Rodham watched Fox "News."

Paul Farhi of the Washington Post: "Bill Cosby’s dazzling, decades-long career as one of America’s most beloved entertainers appeared to be toppling this week amid a succession of allegations painting Cosby as a serial sexual predator." ...

... Bill Carter of the New York Times: "In the latest fallout from the sexual assault accusations involving the comedian Bill Cosby, NBC and Netflix have set aside projects with Mr. Cosby, and a lawyer for him issued a denial of a new claim from a woman who said he raped her decades ago. NBC said on Wednesday that it had dropped plans to develop a new situation comedy starring Mr. Cosby. The decision followed a week of revelations about accusations of rape and sexual assault against him." ...

... In an interview earlier this month, Cosby tried to get the AP to "scuttle" his "no comment" out of the videotape, suggested the reporter would not be considered "serious" if the AP didn't comply:

A Man for All Women. Jessica Roy of New York: "Karl Stefanovic is a beloved anchor on Australia's version of the Today show.... Over the weekend, Stefanovic made a startling confession: He's been wearing the same exact knock-off Burberry suit on-air every single day for a year, and — shockingly — nobody noticed. Stefanovic says he pulled the stunt to make a statement about how women on TV are judged much more harshly than men, particularly for their appearances. 'No one has noticed; no one gives a shit,' he said in an interview with Fairfax Media.'Women are judged much more harshly and keenly for what they do, what they say and what they wear.'"

David Carr of the New York Times offers belated kudos to John Oliver & conceded, among other things, that Oliver was responsible for bringing "attention to the debate on net neutrality.... The show’s sudden influence was felt most acutely on the arcane issue of net neutrality, which Mr. Oliver introduced this way: 'Oh my god, that is the most boring thing I’ve ever seen! That is even boring by C-Span standards.' But after a string of jokes explaining the technology, the stakes and the power dynamics, Mr. Oliver concluded with a call to the underbelly of the Internet to urge the F.C.C. not to cave to moneyed interests and demand that the web remain a level playing field." Read the whole post. ...

... "Preventing Cable Company Fuckery":

... Matt Seitz of New York: " Last Week is doing what media watchdogs (including the Peabody Awards) keep saying that The Daily Show does — practicing real journalism in comedy form — but it's doing it better, and in a simpler, yet more ambitious, ultimately more useful way. If Stewart's show is doing what might be called a reported feature, augmenting opinions with facts, Oliver's show is doing something closer to pure reporting, or what the era of web journalism calls an 'explainer,' often without a hook, or the barest wisp of a hook."

Brian Stelter of the New York Times on how Stewart, Colbert & especially Oliver put net neutrality on the radar:


Clyde Haberman of the New York Times on the story of Lindy Chamberlain, the Australian woman who was convicted of killing her baby in the midst of a media blitz, then later exonerated. "... it took nearly three more decades before a coroner, in 2012, finally issued what the now-divorced parents had long sought: full vindication in the form of a death certificate formally ascribing Azaria’s fate to a dingo attack." With video from the Retro Report.

 

Anna Silman of Salon: "As long as there have been Aaron Sorkin shows on air, there have been parodies of Aaron Sorkin shows. His signature tropes — the Sorkin sermon, the high speed walk-and-talk — have been parodied so extensively that they’ve become cultural artifacts unto themselves, recognizable even to those who never watched the shows that spawned them. [Thursday] night on 'Late Night With Seth Meyers,' the Sorkin parody machine reached its self-referential apex, not just parodying these familiar tropes but also naming the tropes as they parodied them."

... Silman has embedded a number of other Sorkin parodies in her post.

"Triple Elvis (Ferus Type)" by Andy Warhol. Would you pay $82 million for this picture? BTW, you can get a swell copy of it for $29.99 on ebay.... New York Times: Christie's has its biggest auction night evah. CW: The super-rich are still super-rich.

The Guardian claims it will tell you here everything you need to know about the Rosetta comet landing. CW: Oh yeah? The data it sends back will probably just lead to a lot more of those bogus "scientific theories."

Jon [Stewart]'s problem is he has his head so far up Obama's ass he cannot see clearly, he is obviously better suited to reading his joke writers material, and making his clapping seal audience happy. -- Sean Hannity, supporting Stewart's point that Hannity is "the most loathsome dude" at Fox "News"

The New Yorker begins a metered paywall today, November 11. It will allow you to link to six free articles a month.

Washington Post: "They have spawned parodies from 'Ellen' to 'South Park' to 'Saturday Night Live,' but Lincoln is laughing all the way to the bank thanks to its commercials starring Matthew McConaughey. There was more from the Hollywood Reporter: 'Lincoln announced that its overall sales were up 25 percent last month, the strongest October for the beleaguered marque since 2007.'" ...

... Here's one of the McConaughey ads:

Jim Carrey nails it in an SNL skit:

... AND Ellen Degeneres takes the bull by the horns in another:

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Saturday
Jul072012

The Commentariat -- July 8, 2012

** Mike McIntire & Nicholas Confessore of the New York Times: "Two years after the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision opened the door for corporate spending on elections..., large corporations are trying to influence campaigns by donating money to tax-exempt organizations that can spend millions of dollars without being subject to the disclosure requirements that apply to candidates, parties and PACs.... A New York Times review ... found that corporate donations — many of them previously unreported -- went to groups ... dedicated to shaping public policy on the state and national levels.... Some of the biggest recipients of corporate money are organized under Section 501(c)(4) of the tax code, the federal designation for 'social welfare' groups dedicated to advancing broad community interests."

Jackie Calmes of the New York Times: "For much of the past year, Republicans assailed President Obama for resisting the Medicare spending reductions.... Yet since the Supreme Court upheld the Democrats' 2010 health care law, Republicans, led by Mitt Romney, have reversed tactics and attacked the president and Democrats in Congress by saying that Medicare will be cut too much as part of that law." The GOP will scream about anything. The headline calls this GOP move a "delicate pivot." Dear NYT Headline Writer: this is not ballet-dancing.

Robert Pear of the New York Times: "Starting in 2014, the [Affordable Care Act] ... offers subsidies to help people pay for insurance bought through markets known as insurance exchanges. At issue is whether the subsidies will be available in exchanges set up and run by the federal government in states that fail or refuse to establish their own exchanges. Critics say the law allows subsidies only for people who obtain coverage through state-run exchanges. The White House says the law can be read to allow subsidies for people who get coverage in federal exchanges as well. The law says that 'each state shall' establish an exchange. But Washington could be running the exchanges in one-third to half of states, where local officials have been moving slowly or openly resisting the idea.... James F. Blumstein, a professor of constitutional and health law..., said the dispute over subsidies involved a serious legal issue." CW: the GOP continues to prove former Rep. Alan Grayson's point: "The Republican Health Care Plan: Don't get sick. If you do get sick, die quickly."

New York Times Editors: Sen. Minority Leader Mitch "McConnell needs a new excuse for filibustering [the Disclose Act] again. But his suggestion that President Obama and Democrats want disclosure in order to compile a list of 'enemies' is repugnant.... Mr. McConnell's charge that the president has loosed the Internal Revenue Service on his enemies is breathtaking. After several years of indifference, the I.R.S. is finally examining whether these 'social welfare' groups are abusing their tax-exempt status by spending anonymous donations on political attack ads.... Crossroads GPS and the like exist for no other purpose than to run political ads. This is a clear violation of the tax code...." Here's McConnell's "repugnant" op-ed.

** "Jail the Bankers." Ben Chu of the Independent interviews Joe Stiglitz: "The Barclays Libor scandal may have shocked the British public, but Joseph Stiglitz saw it coming decades ago. And he's convinced that jailing bankers is the best way to curb market abuses."

"Crime of the Century." Robert Sheer of TruthDig: "Modern international bankers form a class of thieves the likes of which the world has never before seen. Or, indeed, imagined. The scandal over Libor — short for London interbank offered rate -- has resulted in a huge fine for Barclays Bank and threatens to ensnare some of the world's top financiers. It reveals that behind the world's financial edifice lies a reeking cesspool of unprecedented corruption. The modern-day robber barons pillage with a destructive abandon totally unfettered by law or conscience and on a scale that is almost impossible to comprehend." CW: and do notice how the U.S. Justice Department let Barclays off with a fine. The fix is in. It is always in. ...

... Robert Reich has more: "This is insider trading on a gigantic scale." ...

... Another Outcome of One-Percent-o-nomics. Brian Vastag of the Washington Post: "There are too many laboratory scientists for too few jobs. That reality runs counter to messages sent by President Obama and the National Science Foundation and other influential groups, who ... have called for U.S. universities to churn out more scientists.... One big driver of that trend: Traditional academic jobs are scarcer than ever.... A decade of slash-and-burn mergers [in the pharmaceutical industry]; stagnating profit; exporting of jobs to India, China and Europe; and declining investment in research and development have dramatically shrunk the U.S. drug industry, with research positions taking heavy hits."

Glenn Greenwald issues an I-Toldja-So on Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan.

Iowahawk: "Jubilant scientists at the DNC's High Speed Word Collider (HSWC) announced today they have conclusively disproven the existence of Roberts' Taxon, the theoretical radioactive Facton particle that some had worried would lead to the implosion of the entire Universal Health Care System.... The landmark experiment in Quantum Rhetoric began early this week after legal particle cosmologist John Roberts published a paper in the Quarterly Journal of Tortured Logic that solved the long-debated Pelosi's Paradox in Universal Health Care Theory." Includes diagram of the HSWC.

Where Are They Now? If you don't know who the girl in this high school snap is, you've had a Rip Van Winkle experience. Welcome back to the world. Rip: the answer is in yesterday's Commentariat.

 

 

 

 

Presidential Race

Dan Balz of the Washington Post: "Obama’s message has shifted [since 2008]. The urgency in his appeal is grounded in his conviction that this is an election about ideas and policies and political philosophies, that the country faces a crucial moment and a clear choice." CW: so glad Obama caught on.

Richard Stevenson of the New York Times: "The contrasting images of the week could hardly have been more evocative. There was Mr. Obama on Thursday at a carefully scouted location, the Kozy Corners diner in Oak Harbor, Ohio, downing a burger and fries and chatting with a group of working-class voters.... The next day..., he reminisced about a Greyhound-and-train trip he took around the country with his grandmother when he was 11.... And there was Mitt Romney on Thursday, roaring across Lake Winnipesaukee on a powerboat large enough to hold two dozen members of his family who had gathered for a weeklong vacation at his estate in New Hampshire. On Sunday, Mr. Romney will raise money ... in the Hamptons, with his final stop a $75,000-per-couple dinner at the home of David Koch." ...

The Perelman place in East Hampton.

... "The Republicans' $3 Million Weekend in the Hamptons." Jim Rutenberg of the New York Times: "Mr. Romney is expected to pull in $3 million from an event at the Creeks, the estate of Ronald O. Perelman..., where tickets range from $5,000 for lunch to $25,000 for a V.I.P. photo reception." And there's more! "The jewel of the day is Mr. Perelman's [estate]. With 9 fireplaces, 40 rooms and an expansive wine cellar, his estate makes the Koch spread look modest by comparison. Sitting on 57 acres..., when it last went up for sale in 1991 (for $25 million), The New York Times described it as 'the largest and most spectacular estate in the Village of East Hampton, with more than a mile of frontage on Georgica Pond and a view of the Atlantic Ocean beyond.'" ...

The Sparrow Project: "At 4pm on July 8th, 2012 a diverse coalition of activists and occupiers from across New York will descend upon a fundraiser for presidential candidate Mitt Romney at the Southhampton home of billionaire David Koch."

The American people probably aren't going to fall in love with Mitt Romney. -- John Boehner, Speaker of the House

Local News

Nazis! Bangor Daily News: "Gov. Paul LePage [RTP-Maine] used his weekly radio address Saturday to further his long-running criticisms of the federal Affordable Care Act and explain why he is delaying its implementation in Maine.... LePage said the measure, which he called Obamacare, 'raises taxes, cuts Medicare for the elderly, gets between patients and their doctors, costs trillions of taxpayer dollars and kills jobs.' LePage also took a shot at the individual mandate part of the law, which requires everyone to purchase health insurance or face penalties, by calling the Internal Revenue Service 'the new Gestapo.'" With audio.

Rosalind Helderman of the Washington Post on the political dynamic in North Dakota, where the economy is booming & the unemployment rate is 3 percent. "Republicans were expected to have an easy pickup in [the Senate race in] North Dakota, a state that has not supported a Democrat for president in more than four decades -- and one in which President Obama is deeply unpopular. But the state has one of the country's most persistent records of ticket splitting, and a Mason-Dixon poll from early June showed a statistical tie, with [Democrat Heidi] Heitkamp leading [Republican Rep. Rick] Berg 47 percent to 46 percent. Heitkamp led 51 percent to 36 percent among independents." A good read.

Answer to July 9 PixQuiz: Rand Paul. Scary, right?

News Ledes

New York Times: "With a torpid job market and a fragile economy threatening his re-election chances, President Obama is changing the subject to tax fairness, calling for a one-year extension of the Bush-era tax cuts for people making less than $250,000. Mr. Obama plans to make his announcement in the Rose Garden on Monday...."

New York Times: "Ernest Borgnine, the rough-hewn actor who seemed destined for tough-guy characters but won an Academy Award for embodying the gentlest of souls, a lonely Bronx butcher, in the 1955 film 'Marty,' died on Sunday in Los Angeles. He was 95."

Reuters: "Another day of scorching temperatures blanketed the United States from Iowa to the East Coast on Saturday, but forecasters said some of the areas hit hardest by the prolonged heat wave would soon get relief. More than two dozen people have died...."

New York Times: "An international conference meeting [in Tokyo, Japan] on Sunday pledged $16 billion for civilian needs in Afghanistan, but for the first time insisted that the Afghanistan government reduce corruption in order to receive all the money." ...

... New York Times: "The United States declared Afghanistan a major, non-NATO ally on Saturday, with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton personally delivering the news of Afghanistan's entry into a club that includes Israel, Japan, Pakistan and other close Asian and Middle Eastern allies."

New York Times: "At a gathering of business executives in Cambodia this week, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton plans to urge the expansion of American trade and investment across Asia, particularly in Southeast Asian nations on the periphery of China."

Society News. New York Times: Rep. Barney "Frank, 72, and [Jim] Ready, 42, were married in Newton, Mass., part of Mr. Frank's district, on Saturday in a low-key ceremony on the banks of the Charles River. Gov. Deval L. Patrick of Massachusetts officiated. The guests included Representative Nancy Pelosi, the House minority leader, as well as Senator John Kerry and Representatives Dennis J. Kucinich and Steny H. Hoyer." CW: Yes, very low-key. ...

     ... When Having an Entourage Can Make You a Social Outcast. Boston Globe: "President Obama was not invited because Frank said he did not want the Secret Service presence to inconvenience the town or his guests." CW: exactly the reason I didn't invite President Obama to watch the Fort Myers fireworks from my roof deck on the 4th.

Reuters: "The U.S. Episcopal Church's House of Bishops on Saturday approved a proposal that, if it survives a final vote, would give transgender men and women the right to become ministers in the church. The House of Bishops voted at the church's General Convention to include 'gender identity and expression' in its 'non-discrimination canons,' meaning sexual orientation, including that of people who have undergone sex-change operations, cannot be used to exclude candidates to ministry."

Friday
Jul062012

The Commentariat -- July 7, 2012

I think I wrote my favorite David Brooks column Friday. It is titled "Every David Brooks Column Is about Mayberry." The NYTX front page is here. ...

In today's Comments, contributor P. D. Pepe excerpts the Brooks-Dionne exchange on last night's "PBS NewsHour." Here's the whole thing. CW: not sure I can stand to watch:

The President's Weekly Address:

     ... The transcript is here.

New York Times Editors: "Mr. Obama's big mistake was to turn prematurely from the need for stimulus to a focus on cutting the budget. He may have hoped to co-opt the Republican emphasis on deficits. He would have done better to slam them on their cynicism in lamenting the deficit after enabling the tax cuts, wars and financial crisis -- all Bush-era creations -- that have deepened the debt. What he is not responsible for is the continued Republican obstructionism, even in the face of a weakening economy." ...

... Floyd Norris of the New York Times: "The disappointing jobs report for June will increase pressure on the Federal Reserve to do more. It will add to hopes (among Republicans) or fears (among Democrats) that a slowing economy could damage President Obama's re-election prospects. May I suggest an alternative explanation? The recovery has been chugging along slowly for a couple of years, and while it may have slowed a little in the last few months, that change has been minor." ...

... BESIDES. Ed Kilgore of Washington Monthly: "Most voters do not follow this sort of news, at all.... In other words, the basic partisan divisions in a highly polarized electorate are unlikely to change much between now and November."

Dahlia Lithwick has some thoughts on why liberals aren't beating up on the Democratic appointees to the Supreme Court who ruled against Obama administration policies in the way conservatives are whacking Chief Justice Roberts. See also Adam Liptak's report.

Josh Hicks, standing in as the Washington Post fact-checker: "On Sunday, White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew called [individual mandate] a 'charge' that would apply only to a small fraction of the population, and that 'more middle-class people are going to get a tax cut.' ... We found nothing to dispute Lew's statements. The health law, if it works as the nonpartisan government analysts expect, will provide more tax relief than tax burden for middle-income Americans. The White House chief of staff earns a rare Geppetto Checkmark for his remarks...."

Joe Nocera of the New York Times: "Britain and America have reacted to the Libor scandal in completely different ways. Britain is in an utter frenzy over it, with wall-to-wall coverage, and the most respectable, pro-business publications expressing outrage. Yes, Barclays is a British bank, and the first word in Libor is 'London.' But still: The Economist ran a headline about the scandal that read, in its entirety, 'Banksters.' Yet, on these shores, the reaction has been mainly a shrug."

Where Are They Now? This serious-looking young man grew up to be mayor of a major American city. In case you can't guess who he is, answer in yesterday's Commentariat. Thanks to reader Bonnie for the link to this high-school yearbook photo.

 

 

Presidential Race

Charles Babington of the Associated Press: "History repeats itself, until it doesn't. That musty truism is worth remembering as pundits speculate on whether the lumbering economy will doom the re-election hopes of President Barack Obama, who has shown a knack for beating odds and breaking barriers."

Mark Landler of the New York Times: "On the heels of another anemic employment report, President Obama found himself acknowledging again that the economy was not generating enough jobs, that the recovery was not taking hold fast enough, and that too many Americans lacked basic financial security."

He's keepin' on keepin' on:

Jobs! Steve Benen: "Obama's agenda would create jobs right away, would be fully paid for, and would reduce the deficit over time. Romney's agenda wouldn't create jobs right away, isn't fully paid for, and would apparently increase the eficit over time. Or as Jeffrey Liebman recently put it, 'What would Gov. Romney do to create jobs now? In a word, nothing.'" ...

... Jamelle Bouie of The American Prospect: "Mitt Romney is back to accusing President Obama of having no plan for economic growth.... The only jobs plan on the table right now is the one proposed by the Obama administration. Republicans should be pressured to pass it, and Romney should be challenged on his assertion that the White House has nothing to offer." ...

... Andrew Rosenthal: Republicans are the reason the unemployment rate remains high. CW: they know that; it has been their plan all along.

Paul Krugman: "Bain's activities are part of the really big story about America these past three decades, which isn't about jobs moving overseas, but about the rewriting of the social contract, with income shifted away from ordinary workers and toward the Masters of the Universe."

"That Other Curious Romney Account." Brian Beutler of TPM: "... a Vanity Fair article about Mitt Romney's tangled web of investments has thrust his foreign holdings and complicated tax strategies back into the center of the 2012 campaign. But questions have persisted ... about an individual retirement account held by the Romneys valued at upwards of $100 million -- a stunning amount for a savings vehicle designed to provide middle class retirees comfortable, but non-lavish retirement. His IRA raises two key questions, both of which his campaign has consistently declined to answer: How, despite a $6000 legal limit on annual contributions to an IRA, did Romney's IRA grow to over $100 million? And did he avoid any U.S. taxes on its enormous returns?" The answer, Beutler learns, is -- yeah, probably so. ...

... Paul Krugman: "... the existence of this huge account, which may well be legal but clearly flies in the face of the spirit of the law, poses questions that voters should have answered."

Romney -- Not as Bad as He Says He Is. Kevin Drum: when focus groups were told "Romney supported the Ryan budget plan -- and thus championed 'ending Medicare as we know it' -- while also advocating tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, the respondents simply refused to believe any politician would do such a thing." CW: I don't know how you beat that.

CookieGate -- The Sequel! Reid Epstein of Politico: "As President Obama's motorcade rolled across the Ohio-Pennsylvania border, his campaign informed reporters that in Pittsburgh they would be treated to cookies from Bethel Bakery in Bethel Park, Pa., a locally-famous establishment whose 15 minutes of campaign fame followed an unfortunate description of them by Obama's GOP rival, Mitt Romney. 'I'm not sure about these cookies,' Romney said in April upon being presented the sugary delights. 'They don't look like you made them. No, no. They came from the local 7-Eleven, bakery, or whatever.'" ...

Right Wing World *

Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-Michigan) thought he might be elected president this year. Instead, he is today a "sovereign citizen," whatever that might be (King Thad?); it is not a U.S. Congressman, because he quit that job yesterday. He was not going to be re-elected to Congress anyway because, as Aaron Blake of the Washington Post reports, "McCotter failed to qualify for the primary ballot after most of his petition signatures were recently found to be fraudulent. State officials are investigating the matter.... The Detroit News reported that he had written a TV pilot with a rather odd premise -- McCotter himself hosting a crude variety show that joked about flatulence and female anatomy, among other things." (America's Le Petomane?) ...

... The Detroit News story, by Marisa Schultz, is here, and it is truly sensational. ...

... Laura Gonaway of the "Rachel Maddow Show" invites you to diagram this sentence from McCotter's resignation announcement:

Thus, acutely aware one cannot rebuild their hearth of home amongst the ruins of their U.S. House office, for the sake of my loved ones I must 'strike another match, go start anew' by embracing the promotion back from public servant to sovereign citizen.

      ... Gonaway publishes some of the efforts of first responders.

Oliver Burkemann in the Guardian: "Perhaps you've heard [CW: I hadn't] the news that failed Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain has launched his own online television channel, or "website", at CainTV.com? ... Sadly, however, Cain TV is so authentically bizarre that it's hard to make ... snide jokes [about it]." With absurd, bizarre video!

* Where all presidential candidates must be 35 years or older, natural-born U.S. citizens and insane.

Answer to July 8 PhotoQuiz: Hillary Clinton.

News Ledes

Los Angeles Times: "The state Senate authorized initial funding for California's high-speed rail project, handing a victory to Gov. Jerry Brown and the Obama administration, which have been pushing hard for the first-in-the-nation bullet train."

AP: "Libyans started voting on Saturday in the first parliamentary election since last year's ouster and slaying of longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi, with jubilation at this major step toward democracy after decades of erratic one-man rule tempered by boycott calls and violence in the country's restive east." ...

... Reuters Update: "Crowds of joyful Libyans, some with tears in their eyes, parted with the legacy of Muammar Gaddafi's dictatorship on Saturday as they voted in the first free national election in 60 years. But in the eastern city of Benghazi, cradle of last year's uprising but where many now want more autonomy from the interim government in Tripoli, protesters stormed a handful of polling stations and publicly burned hundreds of ballot papers."

Thursday
Jul052012

The Commentariat -- July 6, 2012

** Prof. William Forbath in a New York Times op-ed: "... today's court challenges the White House, the Democrats and the liberal legal community to reassert a constitutional vision of a national government empowered 'to promote the general Welfare' and -- in Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's terse formula -- 'to regulate the national economy in the interest of those who labor to sustain it.'"

This Comes as No Surprise. Brian Beutler of TPM: "... many of the states with high-profile conservative governors vowing to stand athwart the ACA's progress, by refusing to expand their Medicaid programs and erecting hurdles to establishing insurance marketplaces, would stand to gain the most from successful implementation of the law." CW: let's be clear here: these governors are white Republican men who don't want to help poor people, particularly poor people of color. ...

... Ed Kilgore of Washington Monthly: "... this is an ideological and even a moral issue to conservatives, who view dependence on any form of public assistance as eroding the 'moral fiber' of the poor (as Paul Ryan likes to put it), and as corrupting the country through empowerment of big government as a redistributor of wealth from virtuous taxpayers to parasites who will perpetually vote themselves more of other people's money." These governors' real goal is to end Medicaid altogether.

Two card-carrying conservatives -- Mickey Kaus (here) & Scott Galupo (here) argue that universal healthcare "is a social prerequisite for more freedom and market-driven flexibility." That's refreshing!

Tim Egan: "In March, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned in a special report of 'unprecedented extreme weather and climate events' to come. The events are here, though the skeptics now running the Republican Party deny the obvious, in large part because they are paid to deny the obvious. But for those who are already familiar with the new face of nature, no amount of posturing can wish away the fire this time."

Presidential Race

President Obama finally boasted about the Affordable Care Act in a campaign stop yesterday:

Ewen MacAskill of the Guardian: "Barack Obama has used a tour of the swing state of Ohio to renew his claim that his Republican opponent, Mitt Romney, led the outsourcing of American jobs to India and China. The assertion is controversial and has been largely discredited by independent fact-checking groups. But Obama showed no sign of backing away from the claims on Thursday, telling an audience in Maumee, Ohio that Romney's executive experience was in 'companies that were pioneers of outsourcing'." ...

     ... CW: this is a good example of the press, not the politician, misleading the reader. I checked the transcript, and here's exactly what Obama said: "Governor Romney's experience has been in owning companies that were called 'pioneers' of outsourcing. That's not my phrase -- 'pioneers' of outsourcing." Obama is 100 percent truthful here: this is a phrase from a Washington Post investigative report, and Obama is careful to characterize the wording as someone else's -- in this case, a reputable newspaper's (and one that is definitely not in the tank for Obama). Here's the New York Times story, which covers the remark, covers Romney's response, but doesn't accuse the President of misleading.

Rich Miller & John Detrixhe of Bloomberg News: "Mitt Romney has suggested that President Barack Obama has done a worse job managing the economy than Jimmy Carter. Investors disagree. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index of stock prices has surged 70 percent under Obama, more than three times the 19 percent increase seen during President Carter's first 3-1/2 years in office starting in 1977. The corporate and government bond markets also have outperformed, with yields falling rather than rising. And the dollar has fared better...."

New York Times Editors: Mitt is full of shit. (Okay, not exactly their words, but their sentiment.) "Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. wrote that the mandate is legal under the Congressional taxing power, which Republicans took a step further, saying the mandate must now be a tax. And not just a tax, but a huge, oppressive tax, one of the largest in history. It is, of course, no such thing. How many 'oppressive taxes' are entirely optional? Anyone who does the smart thing and gets health insurance won't have to pay it. It is, as Mr. Romney himself described it in 2006, a fee to promote 'personal responsibility' and prevent healthy people from freeloading." ...

... Michael Shear & Ashley Parker of the New York Times: "As the Massachusetts governor and then as a presidential candidate, Mr. Romney spent the next six years describing in a variety of different ways the possible punishments for ignoring the Massachusetts mandate: as 'free-rider surcharges,' 'tax penalties,' 'tax incentives' and sometimes just as 'penalties.' But regardless of the terms he used, his intentions were clear: Massachusetts residents who chose not to buy health insurance would see their state income taxes go up. Now ... Mr. Romney is asking voters to condemn his rival for a health insurance mandate that is nearly identical to the one he championed in Massachusetts." His newest claim asks "voters to ignore his own record.... Mr. Romney is ... criticizing the president's approach with the same language that he once happily applied to his own achievement."

Paul Krugman: "Did I mention that Herbert Hoover actually was a great businessman in the classic mold? ... If Bain got involved with your company, one way or another, the odds were pretty good that even if your job survived you ended up with lower pay and diminished benefits. In short, what was good for Bain Capital definitely wasn't good for America...."

Jonathan Chait of New York: "Conservatives say they want Romney to change his staff or alter his campaign tactics. But what they really want is a different candidate and a different electorate. They want to believe that the American people are hungering for detailed endorsements of Republican plans to cut entitlement spending and taxes for the rich and launch a philosophical assault on the welfare state. But that's not what the public wants and Romney knows it." Read the whole post. ...

... Jeremy Peters of the New York Times: Emperor Rupert has never cared for Prince Willard. And the emperor's disdain for shows up in the product of his media empire.

CW: So here Ann Romney says that the Obama campaign sent out a memo early on that said, "Kill Romney." Anything is possible in politics, but I don't believe a presidential campaign would put that sentence to paper. When photographers took pictures of the Romneys jet-skiing, commentators called it a "John Kerry windsurfing moment." But it wasn't. The Obama campaign is not going to run ads that appear to disparage Ann Romney. I am beginning to think that the Romney campaign is using Ann Romney as a very effective foil: she lies & provides cover for her husband:

     ... P.S. Surely there are wingers out there already spreading the story that Obama plans to assassinate Romney.

AND. Let's Debate Obama's Race! One of the first cinematic black presidents says, "America's first black president hasn't arisen yet. [Obama]'s not America's first black president -- he's America's first mixed-race president."

Local News

This post by Gregg Easterbrook of the Atlantic is several days old, but if you live in Maryland or parts of Washington, D.C. and are a Pepco customer you'll want to read it, so you can get pissed off about the multi-day power outage all over again. Besides, maybe you're just now getting back on line so no news is old news.

Answer to July 7 PhotoQuiz: Michael Bloomberg, President of the Slide Rule Club; he was also in the debating club, technical club, science club & the homeroom dues agent.

News Ledes

Orlando Sun Sentinel: "Murder defendant George Zimmerman calmly walked out of the Seminole County Jail today with the help of donations to his legal defense fund. Zimmerman posted the $1 million bond thanks in part to the $20,000 in donations raised since Thursday when Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester Jr. set the bond amount."

** AP: "U.S. employers added only 80,000 jobs in June, a third straight month of weak hiring that shows the economy is struggling three years after the recession ended. The Labor Department said Friday that the unemployment rate was unchanged at 8.2 percent."

Guardian: "Central banks around the world signalled their determination to stimulate the flagging global economy on Thursday yesterday, with the injection of £50bn of electronic money into the UK and interest rate cuts in the eurozone and China. The Bank of England warned that recovery was at risk without a boost to its programme of quantitative easing after a flurry of economic surveys showed the double-dip recession could stretch into the autumn."

Huffington Post: yesterday California called for an amendment to the U.S. constitution overturning Citizens United vs. FEC, "which ruled that government restriction of corporation or union spending on political campaigns violated the First Amendment right to free speech. California joins Hawaii, Vermont, Rhode Island, Maryland and New Mexico in calling for ... overturn[ing] the Supreme Court ruling."

New York Times: "Opponents of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria met [in Paris] on Friday with their international sponsors to intensify pressure for his removal, buoyed by word that Brig. Gen. Manaf Tlass, a commander in the elite Republican Guard, and a member of the Damascus aristocracy, had defected and fled the country."

AP: "Former Argentine dictator Jorge Rafael Videla was convicted and sentenced to 50 years Thursday for a systematic plan to steal babies from prisoners who were kidnapped, tortured and killed during the military junta's war on leftist dissenters three decades ago. Argentina's last dictator, Reynaldo Bignone, also was convicted and got 15 years."

New York Times: "French investigators' final report on the 2009 crash of an Air France jet that killed 228 people portrays a cockpit rapidly consumed by confusion and unable to decode a welter of alarms to determine which flight readings could be trusted, with the pilots' apparent reliance on a faulty display cementing the plane into its fatal stall."

AFP: "Equador's foreign minister has said that rape and sexual assault cases lodged in Sweden against Julian Assange are laughable, but no ruling has yet been made on the WikiLeaks founder's asylum application."

Wednesday
Jul042012

The Commentariat -- July 5, 2012

I have a long piece in today's New York Times eXaminer titled "When the Supreme Court Leaks." The NYTX front page is here.

Quote of the Day. I tried to maintain order among the various taxpayers who would come to the forest and gradually learned an essential lesson about life -- that human beings no more become more civil when you put them in the woods than bears become domesticated if you put them in your parlor. (Henry David Thoreau, that fathead, was so very wrong about this.) -- Charles Pierce, on his youthful work as a public parks employee (Read the whole essay.) ...

... AND for those who think privatization of public services is a great idea, here's a story on point from Ihosvani Rodriguez of the Orlando Sun Sentinel about an incident in nearby Hallandale Beach: "As lifeguards are paid and trained to do, Tomas Lopez rushed down the beach to rescue a drowning man -- and then got fired for it. The problem: Lopez stepped out of the beach zone his company is paid to patrol, a supervisor said Tuesday." A spokesperson said the company was concerned it would be sued. "Hallandale Beach began outsourcing its lifeguards in 2003 as a money-saving measure." CW: imagine if Lopez were in a union: (a) he'd be making more than $8.75/hour to save lives, & (b) the company couldn't get away with firing him for saving a life. ...

     ... Update: Ihosvani Rodriguez & Megan O'Matz of the Orlando Sun Sentinel: "The Hallandale Beach lifeguard who was fired earlier this week for leaving his zone to help rescue a nearby swimmer will get an offer to go back to work, his top boss said Thursday. The offer will also be extended to two other lifeguards who were fired in connection to the incident. Several other lifeguards who have since resigned from their jobs in protest will also be welcomed back." Lopez said he would not accept the offer to return.

NEW: one of our contributors reminded me of the LIBOR scandal. Here's Dylan Matthews of the Washington Post explaining why it's such a big deal.

E. J. Dionne: "... it is dangerous to turn the Founders into quasi-religious prophets who produced a text more like the Bible or the Talmud." CW: I wonder if E.J. knows that this is literally what Mormons have done -- or so I've heard. They believe the Constitution is "sacred text." Read Dionne's column & tell me what you think. It strikes me -- tho Dionne doesn't hint at this -- that the "originalism" conservative jurists pretend is a valid and essential way to read the Constitution is nothing more than a handy pretext to promote their own agendas. Just pretend you're channeling Madison or Hamilton & rule "accordingly," then blame the founders. Nino Scalia keeps attesting he can't even understand his colleagues -- he often says or writes "it boggles the mind that anyone would think such-and-such." Yet he pretends he knows the thought processes of men of diverse views who have been dead for 200 years & can apply them to situations with which the Founders were never confronted.

Michael Grunwald of Time: the next times there's a powerful "Derecho," millions might not lose power for days on end -- and that's thanks to the much-derided stimulus bill.

Ever wonder why Mitt Romney was chosen to run the winter Olympics? Wonder no more. Jules Boycoff & Alan Tomlinson, in a New York Times op-ed: Though the International Olympics Committee "has been periodically tarnished by scandal -- usually involving the bribing and illegitimate wooing of delegates -- those embarrassments divert us from a deeper problem: the organization is elitist, domineering and crassly commercial at its core.... The I.O.C., which champions itself as a democratic 'catalyst for collaboration between all parties of the Olympic family,' is nonetheless run by a privileged sliver of the global 1 percent.... Competitions drenched in privilege, like the equestrian events, should be ditched (with apologies to Ann Romney's horse Rafalca, who will be competing in dressage in London)."

Gail Collins answers reader questions (well, maybe hypothetical reader questions) about the November election.

Ben Jacobs of Salon follows Elizabeth Warren on the campaign trail. Entertaining.

Rep. Joe Walsh (RTP-Illinois) still thinks it's a pretty good idea to castigate his Democratic opponent Tammy Duckworth, a veteran who lost her legs when the helicopter she was piloting in Iraq was shot down, for talking about her military service. For a little background on what a great guy Formerly Deadbeat Joe is, Kaili Joy Gray of Daily Kos will fill you in.

Presidential Race

Gerry Mulaney of the New York Times: "Mitt Romney said on Wednesday that the individual mandate in President Obama's health care law was 'a tax,' just days after his campaign said the candidate had rejected that characterization." In case you have forgotten your 5th-grade science class where you learned what a weasel looked like, here's a refresher:

     ... Update: here's the fullblown New York Times story, by Jeremy Peters. ...

     ... Steve Kornacki of Salon has a good follow-up on the flip-flip, tracking Rupert Murdoch's frustration with the amateurish campaign. Also, here's how Kornacki characterizes Mitt's parsing: "Romney tried to invent a loophole, claiming that state-level mandates don't require Supreme Court approval, and therefore don't need 'to be called taxes in order for them to be constitutional.'" ...

     ... Michael Scherer of Time has an excellent piece on what he calls "Romney's Latest, Greatest Twist on the Individual Mandate." ...

Ann & Mitt Romney, jet-skiing on Lake Winnipesaukee Monday.

Luckily, the Romneys don't have to settle for just that cheesy little jet-ski two-seater.     ... AND the professional conservanuts at Rupert's Wall Street Journal pile on: "... for the sake of not abandoning his faulty health-care legacy in Massachusetts, Mr. Romney is jeopardizing his chance at becoming President. Perhaps Mr. Romney is slowly figuring this out, because in a July 4 interview he stated himself that the penalty now is a 'tax' after all. But he offered no elaboration, and so the campaign looks confused in addition to being politically dumb. This latest mistake is of a piece with the campaign's insular staff and strategy that are slowly squandering an historic opportunity.... The Romney campaign thinks it can play it safe and coast to the White House by saying the economy stinks and it's Mr. Obama's fault.... Meanwhile, the Obama campaign is assailing Mr. Romney as an out-of-touch rich man, and the rich man obliged by vacationing this week at his lake-side home with a jet-ski cameo."

Romney's Mystery Money. Associated Press: "For nearly 15 years..., Mitt Romney's financial portfolio has included an offshore company that remained invisible to voters.... Based in Bermuda, Sankaty High Yield Asset Investors Ltd. was not listed on any of Romney's state or federal financial reports. The company is among several Romney holdings that have not been fully disclosed, including one that recently posted a $1.9 million earning -- suggesting he could be wealthier than the nearly $250 million estimated by his campaign. The omissions were permitted by state and federal authorities overseeing Romney's ethics filings, and he has never been cited for failing to disclose information.... Sankaty was transferred to a trust owned by Romney's wife, Ann, one day before he was sworn in as Massachusetts governor in 2003...."

Paul Krugman: "Romney wasn't so much a captain of industry as a captain of deindustrialization, making big profits for his firm (and himself) by helping to dismantle the implicit social contract that used to make America a middle-class society. So now he proposes bringing the skills and techniques he used in business to the White House."

Right Wing World *

Benjy Sarlin of TPM: Jonathan Krohn, the teen conservative idol turned liberal heretic, is on the receiving end of a world of abuse from right wing pundits this week.... The Daily Caller led the charge. Gregg Re started things off with a profanity-filled screed from a spurned conservative who attended Krohn's big CPAC speech in 2009 and apparently demanded anonymity to tell Re the 17-year-old was a 'douche.'"

* Where adults bullying teenagers is A-okay, especially if the grown-up remembers to call the kid an obscene name or two.

News Ledes

Orlando Sun Sentinel: "A judge Thursday ordered George Zimmerman, the Neighborhood Watch volunteer who shot and killed Trayvon Martin, released on $1 million bail but called the defendant a manipulator and said it appeared he had been preparing to flee the country. It was not clear how long it would take the 28-year-old Zimmerman to arrange his release."

NBC News: "A 96-year-old former Arizona governor and former U.S. diplomat says he holds no grudges against the U.S. Border Patrol agents who he says detained him at a checkpoint for more than a half-hour in stifling heat after his pacemaker apparently set off a radiation sensor. Raul H. Castro says although he wasn't mistreated, agents could have been more sensitive to his age and condition."

Bloomberg News: "Fewer Americans than forecast filed first-time claims for unemployment insurance payments last week, easing concern that the labor market was deteriorating."

Bloomberg News: "Global central banks went on the offensive against the faltering world economy, cutting interest rates and increasing bond buying as a round of international stimulus gathers pace. In a 45-minute span, the European Central Bank and People's Bank of China cut their benchmark borrowing costs, while the Bank of England raised the size of its asset-purchase program."

Toledo Blade: "Demonstrating a tough line on trade with China, the Obama Administration will file an unfair trade complaint today against China's new duties on some American-made cars and sport utility vehicles, including the Toledo-made Jeep Wrangler.... President Obama is expected to refer to the WTO trade action in his speech today in suburban Toledo as he begins his two-day "Betting On America Bus Tour" through northern Ohio and western Pennsylvania." Via Time.

AP: "WikiLeaks said Thursday it was in the process of publishing material from 2.4 million Syrian emails -- many of which it said came from official government accounts. WikiLeaks' Sarah Harrison told journalists at London's Frontline Club that the emails reveal interactions between the Syrian government and Western companies, although she declined to go into much further detail."

Guardian: "In an apparent response to reports that the US has increased its military presence in the Gulf, the commander of [Iran's] Revolutionary Guards' air force said on Wednesday that missiles had been aimed at 35 US military bases in the Gulf as well as targets in Israel, ready to be launched in case of an attack."

New York Times: "The nuclear accident at Fukushima was a man-made disaster rooted in government-industry collusion and the worst conformist conventions of Japanese culture, a high-level parliamentary inquiry concluded on Thursday, in a report that also warned that the plant may not have stood up to earthquake damage -- a worrying concern as the quake-prone country starts to bring its reactor fleet back online." ...

... AP: "Nuclear power returned to Japan's energy mix for the first time in two months Thursday, hours before a parliamentary investigative commission blamed the government's cozy relations with the industry for the meltdowns that prompted the mass shutdown of the nation's reactors.... Thursday's resumption of operations at a reactor in Ohi, in western Japan, already had been hotly contested."

Reuters: "Mexico's election officials on Wednesday recounted votes from more than half the polling booths in Sunday's presidential and congressional elections, responding to claims of fraud and requests for recounts in areas where the race was tight. Officials with the Federal Electoral Institute (IFE) said the recount would not significantly change preliminary results of the presidential vote...."

New York Times: "A potentially explosive re-examination of the circumstances behind the death of , the symbol of the Palestinian national struggle, has galvanized Palestinian suspicions that he was poisoned and led the Palestinian Authority to agree in principle on Wednesday to an exhumation of his remains, possibly within days."

AP: "... tens of thousands of Americans may ... lose their Internet service Monday unless they do a quick check of their computers for malware that could have taken over their machines more than a year ago.

New York Times: "After decades of controversy, the Food and Drug Administration approved a new H.I.V. test on Tuesday that for the first time makes it possible for Americans to learn in the privacy of their homes whether they are infected."